The Manual of Animal Rights
by David Cowles-Hamar
(Reprinted with permission from The Vegan)
(Electronic Version Created by Larry Kaiser)
FOOD FROM ANIMALS
1 It's natural for humans to eat meat
The human physiology, like that of our closest living relatives -- the
great apes, is vegetarian in design. The structure of our skin, teeth,
stomach and bowels, the length of our digestive system, the composition of
our saliva, stomach acids and urine etc. are all typically vegetarian.
Somewhere though, deep in our ancient history, we used our
extraordinary minds to develop tools that overcame our physical
limitations and enabled us to kill other animals and eat their flesh. We
became omnivorous in habit but our physiology, though resilient and
adaptable enough to handle quantities of flesh, has always remained true
to its vegetarian origins.
Stripped of our tools this becomes obvious. Imagine for example, the
difficulty you would have first catching and then eating a rabbit raw --
fur, bone, sinew and all and compare that to the ease with which you could
gather and eat a bowl of raw fruit or vegetables.
Perhaps more importantly, ask yourself if, when you are very hungry,
you in any way feel an instinctive urge to hunt down, kill and eat another
Despite our omnivorous habits human beings are designed for and
thrive on a vegetarian diet. We can in fact maintain the very best
in health without resorting to any animal products whatsoever (veganism).
That is why vegetarianism is a moral issue for how can we justify causing
the suffering and death of millions upon millions of animals if it is
2 Humans have always eaten meat
Meat eating is certainly among our most ancient practices (though it is
worth pointing out that most of the world's human population has always
been, and still is largely vegetarian and see 1) but then so are slavery,
murder and war. The antiquity if a practice is neither a guarantee of its
morality nor a justification for it.
3 Humans need some meat
Despite the desperate leaflets and posters put out by The Meat and
Livestock Commission this idea is obsolete. Numerous medical studies have
found vegans and vegetarians to be not only healthy but generally
healthier than people who eat meat.
4 Meat is good for you
The British Medical Association has stated that "vegetarians have lower
rates of obesity, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, large bowel
disorders and gall-stones".
Other research has added to this list osteoporosis, kidney stones,
diabetes, gout, arthritis, appendicitis, angina, haemorroids, varicose
veins and diverticular disease.
Vegans enjoy the same benefits and some of them to a greater degree.
5 Humans can eat meat and still be healthy
The human digestive system is very resilient and adaptable. We can
certainly eat moderate amounts of meat as part of a balanced diet and
still be healthy.
The point is that we can maintain perfect health without any meat at
all and we are therefore causing the suffering and death of millions upon
millions of animals every year for no better reasons than material profit
and the taste of their flesh. An individual should find this morally
untenable even after a very minimal consideration of animal rights.
6 Vegans and vegetarians are often unhealthy
7 It's natural for humans to drink milk
Human beings are the only animals on earth who drink the milk of another
species. This is not an ancient practice either, we thrived for hundreds
of thousands of years without it and in fact it has been estimated that
two thirds of the world's population cannot even digest it.
Whether you choose to describe our use of animal milk as natural or
not is irrelevant. The point is that we do not need it and we
therefore cannot justify the suffering and death we cause in obtaining it
(see 11 and 12).
8 Humans need some milk
Milk contains some valuable nutrients for those who are able to digest it
but these can all be better obtained on a vegan diet without risk of the
unpleasant side effects associated with milk (see 9) and without the
suffering and death involved in the dairy industry (see 11 and 12).
9 Milk is good for you
It has been estimated that 90 per cent of the world's population is
deficient in the enzyme lactase, necessary for the digestion of milk sugar
(lactose). This natural deficiency is quite harmless unless you drink
milk in which case you can suffer symptoms such as chronic or occasional
diarrhoea, bloating, flatulence, abdominal pains and possibly, in older
Intolerance to milk is the commonest of all food allergies. Symptoms
include asthma, eczema, skin rashes, chronic nasal and sinus problems,
tonsillitis, ulcerative colitis, bowel irregularity, hyperactivity,
depression, migraines and some forms of arthritis.
Cow's milk can cause gastro-intestinal bleeding in infants leading to
anaemia and there is a proven link milk consumption and senile cataracts.
In this country dairy products account for half our saturated fat
intake, making them a high risk factor in heart disease -- our biggest
10 We only take what the calf doesn't need
This is a very naive view. Such idyllic farmyard scenes are a thing of
the distant past. The modern dairy cow has her calf taken away from her
when it is 1-3 days old.
11 What happens to the calves?
The least healthy calves are usually slaughtered at a few days old (after
enduring a distressing trip to market) and then processed into pet food,
pies and rennet for cheese making.
Some of the females go on to become dairy herd replacements. Other
calves are sold at market at 1-2 weeks old to be reared for beef
production. 80 per cent of our beef is a by-product of the dairy
Every year a quarter of a million calves are exported to Europe,
often in appalling conditions, for veal products. They are kept in
isolation in 5' x 2' crates in which they are unable even to turn around.
They are given no bedding (in case they try to eat it) and are fed only on
a liquid diet devoid of iron and fibre to keep their flesh pale and
anaemic. After 3-5 months they are slaughtered. They probably wouldn't
have lived much longer anyway.
Over 170,000 calves under 3 months old die each year due to poor
husbandry and appalling treatment at markets.
12 Dairy farming doesn't harm the cows
From about 2 years of age the modern dairy cow spends 9 months of every
year pregnant. Her calf is taken away from her at 1-3 days old causing
them both terrible distress. She is then milked for 10 months during
which time she is forced to produce 10 times the amount of milk her calf
would have taken. It is not surprising that every year a third of our
dairy cows suffer from mastitis -- a painful inflammation of the udder.
To increase her milk yield the cow is fed on high protein
concentrates but this is often not enough and she may be forced to
break down her own body tissues to keep up with the continual demand
("milking off her back"). This commonly leads to a condition called
acidosis which can make her lame -- lameness affects 25% of our dairy cows
At about 5 years old, spent and exhausted, she is slaughtered. Her
natural life span would have been around 20 years. (80 per cent of our
been is a by-product of the dairy industry.)
13 Cows won't produce milk if they are not content
Cows cannot help producing milk any more than they can help producing
Since the 1950s the dairy cow has been subjected to ever more
intensive farming methods. Her suffering now is greater than it has
ever been. In that same period her yield has increased 5 fold.
14 It's natural for humans to eat eggs
Early humans certainly did eat eggs but we must clearly distinguish
between the opportunistic stone age gatherer and the modern intensive
egg farmers who, in the UK alone, keep 30 million hens in tiny cages,
without room even to spread their wings and who kill 35-50 million male
chicks every year simply because they have no use for them.
The point is that we do not need eggs and can therefore maintain perfect
health without them. We therefore cannot justify the suffering and death
we cause in obtaining them (see 17 and 18).
15 Eggs are good for you
Eggs are nutritious but they can also carry salmonella and are a very
common cause of allergies. All their nutrients can easily be obtained on
a vegan diet without the health risks and without the enormous cruelty
involved in their production (see 17 and 18).
16 Hens don't mind their eggs being taken
In the wild a hen will build herself a nest and lay about 6 eggs in as
many days. If any of these are lost she is usually able to replace them,
provided she has access to enough food. It is this ability to keep laying
that the modern egg farmer exploits but in doing so frustrates one of the
hen's most fundamental instincts: to reproduce.
17 Hens won't lay if they are not content
A hen's ovaries are controlled by light which on a battery farm is
carefully regulated to simulate continuous summertime. It is this,
combined with selective breeding and a carefully controlled diet that
results in the modern battery hen's high output.
Conditions on a battery farm are appalling. Five birds, each with a
wingspan of 32 inches are kept in cages only 20 inches wide. Their feet
often become deformed from continuous standing on a sloping wire mesh.
They can never perch, ground- scratch, dust bathe or nest. Lack of
exercise leads to fatty liver syndrome and brittle bones. Most of them
eventually become psychotic. These birds are not "content" and yet they
still lay. They will even continue to lay when seriously injured -- they
simply cannot help it.
18 What's wrong with free-range eggs
Like most animals, chickens produce equal numbers of male and female
offspring. But even the most conscientious free-range egg farmer has no
use for the males so they are killed, in the millions, by gassing,
crushing, suffocation, decompression or drowning.
The hens are kept for about 2 years until their productivity
declines. They are then sent for slaughter. Their natural life span
would have been 5-7 years.
19 Hens lay unfertilized eggs that would otherwise be wasted
Wild hens rarely lay unfertilized eggs. Domestic hens only do so because
they are being manipulated by humans. The point is not that the eggs may
go to waste but that in manipulating the hens to produce these eggs we
inflict the most appalling cruelty on them (see 17 and 18).
20 Fish is good for you
The North Sea. where 40% of our fish is caught, has become so polluted
that some fishermen now wear protective face masks to prevent the rashes
and other skin disorders that contact with the water can cause.
Moderate amounts of fish from unpolluted waters (if there are any) are
undoubtedly good for you. But there are three things to remember here:
firstly, it has been clearly established that fish can and do suffer when
they are caught (see 21, 22 and 132); secondly, fishing has already had a
disastrous effect on the environment (fish stocks are now at their lowest
level ever); and thirdly, all benefits of eating fish can be easily
obtained from a vegan diet. The ethical choice is clear.
21 Fish don't feel pain
Fish have a complex nervous system and all the sensory organs necessary
for the sensation of pain. It is therefore logical to assume that they do
A three year investigation by a panel of scientists and representatives
from angling and shooting organisations ( the Medway Report) concluded
that fish, like other vertebrates are capable of suffering.
22 Fish are free-range
Why should a free-range animal be any more deserving of an unnecessary
death than any other animal? The suggestion that individuals should pay
for their freedom with their lives is moral nonsense. All animals should
be free and we have no right to deprive them of that freedom or their
lives for such trivial reasons as money, the taste of their flesh or the
pursuit of 'sport'.
23 Some points concerning fish slaughter
UK fishing vessels catch 500,000 tons of fish every year and there are no
specific regulations governing their slaughter.
They die of shock, asphyxiation, crushing by the weight of the catch and
freezing on ice bedding. Many, like cod, haddock, plaice, skate and sole
can still be alive when landed and gutted. Eels are killed by burying in
salt (it takes 2 hours) or are chopped into pieces and boiled.
Farmed fish such as salmon and trout are bled to death with or without
stunning. Trout are starved for 3-6 days beforehand and may simply to
taken from the water and packed in ice for transport to the market, taking
up to 14 minutes to die (see also 132).
24 What about protein?
Protein deficiency is almost unheard of in the West. Vegans certainly
needn't worry, the average vegan diet easily fulfills the daily protein
recommendations of the Department of Health, World Health Organization
(WHO) and the National Committee on Nutrition Education (NACNE).
On of the problems with animal proteins is that they usually come with
saturated fats and so are a major risk factor in heart disease -- our
Plant proteins on the other hand are associated with dietary fibre which
is one of the most important parts of a healthy diet. In fact vegans as a
dietary group have been found to be the most likely of all to achieve
their daily fibre requirement.
The proteins in animal products are very highly concentrated and most
people who eat meat take in far more protein than their bodies can cope
with. This can lead to conditions like gout, arthritis, rheumatism,
fibrositis and deficiencies in niacin, vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium and
A high protein diet also puts enormous strain on the pancreas -- an
organ that produces enzymes for the digestion of proteins but also for
fighting cancer. It is worth remembering that 147,000 (1981) people die
of cancer every year in Britain.
It is not widely known that most vegetables contain useful amounts of
protein. Particularly rich sources include nuts, pulses, grains, seeds,
green leafy vegetables and potatoes.
25 What about iron?
The average vegan diet not only supplies twice the minimum daily
requirement of iron but also up to three times the daily requirement of
vitamin C. Vitamin C enhances the absorption of iron in the body,
consequently vegans rarely suffer from anaemia.
Studies have shown the incidence of anaemia in vegetarians and meat
eaters to be roughly the same.
Rich plant sources of iron include dried fruits, whole grains nuts,
green leafy vegetables, seeds, pulses, molasses, and seaweeds. Using iron
pots and pans can also contribute to a dietary intake.
26 What about calcium?
There have been no reports of calcium deficiencies in vegans. It has been
shown that animal protein causes the body to excrete calcium more quickly
than plant protein does. This may be one reason why vegans and
vegetarians are less at risk from osteoporosis.
Rich plant sources of calcium include tofu (contains more than four
times the calcium of cow's milk), green leafy vegetables, dried fruit,
nuts, seeds, molasses and seaweeds.
27 What about vitamin D?
Vitamin D is produced by the action of the sunlight on the skin. Although
it is available in fortified foods like margarine, a little fresh air
every day (even if it's cloudy) is all you need.
28 What about vitamin B12?
The human body needs only minute amounts of vitamin B12 and is able to
conserve it when supplies are scarce. Deficiency is extremely rare and
actually doesn't affect vegans any more than it affects nonvegans. It is
usually caused by an inability to absorb the vitamin rather than a dietary
Vitamin B12 is produced by bacteria in the small intestine, it is
possible that the body can absorb all it needs from there. Not enough
research has been done yet, but it may explain how some life-long vegans,
who never take supplements, remain in excellent health.
Vitamin B12 is not found in most plants but it is often present in
micro-organisms living on them. Although most of these organisms are
destroyed by modern chemical agriculture, it does suggest that fresh, raw
and organically grown produce could be a valuable source. But again, the
research has not yet been done.
Vegans generally needn't worry too much about B12 but it is probably
prudent to take a supplement occasionally.
29 You would have to eat so much
Totally untrue as any vegan or vegetarian will tell you. Try it and see!
BUT WHAT IF WE ALL TURNED VEGETARIAN/VEGAN?
30 We would be overrun with livestock
There are huge numbers of farm animals but it is not as if they would ever
be let loose overnight. They are only farmed in such large numbers
because it is profitable. As vegetarianism and veganism grow so the
demand for meat will decline and farm animals will be bred in decreasing
numbers. Those that are left will undoubtedly be will cared for by a
society that has put compassion before taste and profit.
31 What would happen to all the farm animals?
32 There would be fewer animals in the world
90% of the agricultural land in this country is used either directly on
indirectly to feed livestock. It has been estimated that a vegan Britain
could be self-sufficient in food on about 25% of the land currently being
farmed. This would free vast areas of land that could be returned to the
wild, all those millions of acres of sterile crops would become densely
populated ecosystems. There would be more animals in this country than
there have been for hundreds of thousands of years.
33 Many customs and traditions would be destroyed
Other examples of customs and traditions include sexism, racism, torture,
public executions and witch burning.
For society to progress some customs and traditions have to be
34 There wouldn't be enough food
90% of the agricultural land in this country is used either directly or
indirectly to feed livestock. We actually produce enough food to feed 250
There are over 500 million severely undernourished people in the world,
50 thousand die every day of starvation.
It has been estimated that a vegan Britain could be self-sufficient
in food on about 25% of the land currently being farmed.
35 Many people would lose their jobs
The move towards vegetarianism/veganism is a gradual process. As less and
less people are employed in the animal-based industries so more and more
will find work in the industries that replace them. Some people may well
lose their jobs and every effort must be made to find them new
employment. But let us not forget that the animals upon whom their jobs
are based are losing their lives.
36 I didn't kill the animal
The people who buy meat are solely responsible for the deaths, in Britain
alone, of over 700 million animals every year. The killing is done at
their request and financed with their money. Their guilt is inescapable.
37 The animals are killed humanely
In their 1984 report, the Government's own advisory committee, the Farm
Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) said that animal welfare in British
slaughterhouses had a "low priority". They criticized the "woeful
ignorance" of the slaughterhouse staff, the continuous and unnecessary
use of painful electric goads to move the animals and thought it "highly
probable" that stunning methods used before killing did not render the
animals insensitive to pain. All in all they made 117 recommendations for
improvement, only a few of which have ever been implemented.
The conditions at slaughter though are not the main issue. It is the
killing itself that is wrong and it remains wrong however 'humanely' it is
done. Would we ever excuse a child murderer for killing his victims
38 The animals are bred for it
Animals that are bred for food are just as capable of suffering as their
wild counterparts and it is their suffering which is at issue.
39 The animals are here to be used
Animals are not a means to a human end; they are independent,
free-thinking individuals with their own needs and desires. We have no
need and therefore no right to cause them suffering and death.
40 If it wasn't for the meat industry the animals would never have been
Surely it is better for an animal born into a short miserable and painful
life ending in a violent death that it was never born at all. Which would
41 The animals have never known anything better
Not having known anything better does not alleviate the suffering of the
animal. Its fundamental desires remain and it is the frustration of those
desires that is a great part of its suffering. There are so many
examples: the dairy cow who is never allowed to raise her young, the
battery hen who can never walk or stretch her wings, the sow who can never
build a nest or root for food in the forest litter etc. Eventually we
frustrate the animal's most fundamental desire of all -- to live.
42 The animals have got to die sometime/or something
So have humans but that does not give you a reason or excuse to kill
43 Veganism and vegetarianism are socially difficult
Although vegetarianism has become widely accepted now, veganism is still
regarded with suspicion by most people. This will only change as veganism
grows, so rather than an excuse for complacency it is a reason in itself
to do what you can now.
The priorities are clear, no animal should have to suffer or die to
save you a little social inconvenience. Any life is worth more than
44 A great deal of pleasure is gained from animal products
To cause the suffering and death of others for pleasure is wrong. This
is common moral sense and is believed by most people in the world.
Surely, in our endless ingenuity, we can find other ways to enjoy
45 Just my turning vegan/vegetarian wouldn't make any difference
In their lifetime the average British meat-eater eats 36 pigs, 36 sheep, 8
cattle and 550 poultry. That may be only a comparatively tiny
contribution to the meat industry but vegetarianism grows. I was inspired
by others to become vegetarian (and later vegan), people have followed me
and still others have followed them. We can all make a difference because
none of us is alone.
If the number of vegetarians in this country only doubled it would save
60 million lives every year.
46 Animal product industries are worth a lot of money
You cannot justify or defend a practice on the grounds that it is
profitable. After all, a great many crimes are very profitable too.
We should ask ourselves not how much an animal's life is worth to us but
how much it is worth to the animal -- for whom it is everything.
47 Animals have adapted to farming
Animals have been forced into adaptations that increase their productivity
by straining their bodies often beyond their physical limits.
Typical examples include the dairy cow who may go lame as she breaks
down her own body tissues to produce 10 times her natural yield (see 12),
and broiler chickens, 6% of whom die from the physical strain of
increasing their body weight 50-60 times in seven weeks.
Forced adaptations only increase the suffering of farm animals.
48 Vegan/vegetarian food is too expensive
Animal products, especially meat and cheese are the most expensive of all
our staple food stuffs. The more of them you cut out and replace with
the much cheaper (and healthier) fruit and vegetables the more money you
are going to save.
49 Farmers have to kill pests
Animals become pests not through their own faults but through ours. Many
are escapees from fur farms, feral pets or were deliberately introduced to
the wild for 'sport'. On farmland the ecosystem is thrown out of
balance. Any animals suited to the particular crop being grown quickly
multiply. We cannot justify killing these animals for what are our
mistakes. We must find other solutions.
In the wild there is sadly very little we can do. In the end it will be
the animals themselves who limit their own numbers as the environment
adjusts to accommodate them.
On farmland though, there is a great deal we can do and most of the
lessons have already been learned. For thousands of years tribal peoples
all over the world have used farming methods based on natural ecosystems
where potential pest populations are self-regulating. These ideas are now
being explored in organic farming and permaculture.
Unfortunately I cannot go into detail here on such an enormous subject.
50 Even vegan farms would deprive wild animals of their habitat
It has been estimated that a vegan Britain could be self-sufficient in
food on about 25% of the land currently being farmed. This would free
vast areas that could be returned to wildlife.
The land is not something we own; it is something we share. We must use
it responsibly, respecting the needs of the animals we share it with and
taking only what we need.
51 Is vegetarianism/veganism safe during pregnancy?
Pregnant women have special dietary needs and must always take care to
ensure they receive all the nutrients that they and their developing
children need. These nutrients can all be easily obtained on vegan and
A 1987 survey found that a well-planned vegan diet during pregnancy
could reduce the incidence of pre-eclampsia.
52 Is vegetarianism/veganism safe for babies and children?
The British Medical Journal report 'Nutrition and Health' states that:
"the vegetarian diet is adequate for the nutritional needs of infants".
Vegan and vegetarian children thrive. Vegan children in particular tend
to be slimmer than their peers and therefore less prone to obesity-related
53 Does a vegetarian/vegan diet require specialist knowledge?
The basic principles of healthy eating are not difficult to grasp and have
nowadays become almost common knowledge.
The same principles apply whether you be vegan, vegetarian or otherwise:
eat more fresh fruit, vegetables, and wholefoods and cut down on saturated
fats, sugar, salt and alcohol.
There is nothing in animal products that has to be carefully compensated
for (except, perhaps, vitamin B12. See 28). Many of them do us a lot
more harm than good (see 4, 9, 15 and 20). Cutting out animal products
only makes a 'healthy' diet healthier.
54 How do you know that plants don't suffer?
To experience suffering you must have a central nervous system to feel
pain and a degree of intelligence to suffer from that pain or to feel
grief. A plant has neither. We therefore have no reason to believe that
55 Shouldn't a plant have rights?
We attribute rights to an individual because without those rights they may
suffer. As plants are incapable of suffering (see 54) they cannot possess rights.
This does not excuse the wanton destruction of plant life as is
happening now all over the world because we animals, who do possess rights, depend on those plants for our survival. Without plant life there can be no life on Earth.
56 What's wrong with free-range meat?
57 Animals convert plants we can't eat into meat we can
True, but more relevant is the fact that to keep us in animal products we
don't need we feed the livestock alone in this country with enough food
for 250 million people.
There are over 500 million severely undernourished people in the world.
Thirty million die of starvation every year.
58 What if I made use of an animal that was already dead?
It is not the eating of meat that is wrong but the killing of animals
unnecessarily. As meat eating is unnecessary and generally requires the
killing of an animal, it usually follows that meat eating is wrong.
If, however, you managed to obtain some meat without killing an animal
(or by paying someone else to kill it for you) -- for example, by
stumbling across an animal that was already dead -- then I can see no
moral objection to your eating it. Of course this also applies to human
Recent archeological evidence suggests that early humans were much more
inclined toward scavenging than hunting.
59 What about honey?
Bees are astoundingly complex creatures, they have memory and an ability
to apply it to novel situations. They have an intricate social structure
and are able to communicate detailed information to each other.
Millions upon millions of bees are killed every year in commercial honey
production both intentionally and unintentionally.
It is difficult to say to what degree a creature so vastly different to
us is capable of suffering but we don't need honey -- so surely it would
be better to spare the lives of these miraculous creatures?
OTHER ANIMAL PRODUCTS
60 Most fur animals are bred for it
Animals bred specifically for their fur are not only deprived of their
lives, but unlike their wild counterparts, they are also deprived of their
freedom. Fur farming is therefore an even greater abuse of animal rights
than hunting and trapping.
In the wild, a mink will defend a territory of 2 1/2 miles of riverbank
or 22 acres of marshland. An arctic fox ranges over anything from
2,100-15,000 acres and yet on fur farms these animals are kept in tiny
wire mesh cages. Such is their frustration that they become psychotic.
Many are driven to cannibalism and self-mutilation.
61 The animals have got to die sometime/of something
62 Most fur animals are pests
63 Fur is a product of careful and necessary culling
Culling is a term which usually describes the killing of animals that we
consider to be in some way damaging to the environment. In other words
pests (see 49). We arrogantly exclude from this solution the single most
damaging animal of all -- ourselves.
Of the tens of millions of animals killed for their fur every year the
vast majority are either farmed or trapped in their natural habitat where,
as part of a natural ecosystem, they pose no threat to the environment.
64 Most fur animals are killers themselves
Some animals are predators. They have to kill other animals in order to
survive. Human beings choose to kill animals for material profit, vanity
and because they like the taste of them. It is not the same thing at
all -- the predators have no choice, we do.
65 Animals suffer in the wild anyway
Animals can, and often do, suffer in the wild but that does not give us a
reason or excuse to add to their suffering.
66 I didn't kill the animal
The animal was killed for you and at your expense. Your money will also
finance the slaughter of many more.
You don't have to physically kill something (or someone) to be guilty of
67 Fur gives pleasure to many people
68 Many people's whole way of life depends on the fur trade
The greatest strength of humankind lies in its endless ability to adapt.
People can change their way of life given the opportunity (and they must
be given that opportunity) but for the animals that are killed there is no
life, they have lost everything.
69 The animal was killed for food not leather
The animal was killed for profit and every last part of it was sold to
achieve that profit. It makes no difference which particular parts you
buy, the money all goes the same way (the skin represents about 10% of the
70 People have always used leather
People have certainly been using leather for at least 600,000 years but
we've been having wars and murdering each other just as long. The
antiquity of a practice is neither a guarantee of its morality nor a
justification for it.
71 There is no substitute for leather
When people say there is no substitute for leather they are usually
referring to their footwear. But there are many alternatives. Canvas,
for example, is a natural and hard- wearing material that will see you
through most (if not all) of the year.
Then there are plastics (even leather shoes usually have plastic soles)
and rubber. More recently, advances have been made with waterproof and
breathable synthetics like Goretex and there are now companies
specializing in using materials that have the appearance and qualities of
Canvas shoes are widely available but some of the newer products are
not. Their availability will only increase with demand, so seek them
72 Leather is environmentally friendly
Leather is far from environmentally friendly; its production involves the
use of lead, zinc, formaldehyde and cyanide based products. On the other
hand, the synthetic alternatives can be just as bad. Environmentally
speaking there is little to choose between them. The big difference is
that the leather is a product of the suffering and death of millions upon
millions or animals.
The ethical choice is clear. but at the same time, every effort must be
made to protect the environment. It seems that the best choice, whenever
possible, is canvas.
73 Shearing doesn't harm the sheep
Millions of lambs and sheep die every year worldwide from exposure to cold
after shearing. One million die in Australia alone.
74 Shearing is a relief for sheep in warmer weather
75 There is no substitute for real wool
There are plenty of substitutes for wool, from good old cotton in its
infinite forms to the modern and actually far more efficient synthetic
76 Sheep are "free-range
Although attempts are being made to factory farm sheep, most of them
remain effectively free-range. But why should that make them any more
deserving of unnecessary suffering and death? (See 22, 73 and 77).
77 Other points concerning wool
Domestic sheep have lost their natural resistance to fly-strike -- an
agonizing disease in which maggots burrow and eat their way into the
animal's flesh. In this country, to prevent the disease, many lambs have
their tails docked, often by cutting without anaesthetic. In Australia
they prevent the disease by performing an operation called 'mulesing' in
which folds of skin around the sheep's anus are sheared off, again without
anaesthetic. They do this to 80% of their sheep (30% of the world's wool
comes from Australia).
Of UK wool, 27% is 'skin wool' (pulled from the skins of slaughtered
sheep and lambs).
Wool represents only 3-10% of a sheep farmer's profit, the rest being
made mostly through the sale of lambs for slaughter. Altogether 20
million sheep and lambs are slaughtered in this country every year.
78 What about any fur, leather or wool you already own?
Do what you like with it, the damage has already been done.
79 Animal product industries are worth a lot of money
80 What about silk?
The silkworm (the caterpillar of the silk moth) can certainly feel and
recoil and writhe when injured. It is difficult to say, in an animal so
vastly different from us, whether this constitutes suffering, but, as they
are killed in the millions (by baking, steaming, electrocution or
microwaves) for yet another product we simply don't need, surely it would
be better to give them the benefit of the doubt?
81 What about photographic film?
Gelatine (obtained by boiling the skins, tendons, and bones of animals) is
used in the production of photographic film. It is virtually impossible
to avoid film and photographs in our society (see also 161), all we can
really do is make known our objections. Though the technology exists to
replace photographic film, its price is currently prohibitive and there is
insufficient demand. Hopefully, with the growth of vegetarianism and
veganism, this situation will soon change.
82 Vivisection has achieved great advances in medicine
Humans and other animals are physiologically different. Vivisection is
misleading because one animal's reaction to a disease, drug or procedure
can be radically different to another's (see 84).
One hundred years of animal experimentation have failed to provide any
major breakthroughs in the treatment of cancer and heart disease -- two
of our biggest killers, though both these diseases remain largely
Vaccinations developed through animal experiments have been shown to
have had no effect on the incidence of diphtheria, smallpox, polio, TB,
whooping cough and tetanus. At the time vaccination began these diseases
were already on the decline due to improvements in water sanitation,
hygiene and nutrition. Despite vaccination, they continued to decline at
the same rate.
Blood transfusion was delayed 200 years by misleading animal
experiments. Corneal transplants were delayed 90 years. We may never
have had penicillin at all had it been tested on guinea pigs -- it kills
83 Medicine relies on vivisection
Medicine is hindered by vivisection (see 82, 84 and 94).
84 Vivisection is the only way to ensure a product is safe for humans
The following drugs were all passed safe in animal experiments with tragic
Eraldin -- Caused blindness, stomach troubles, joint pains and growths.
Opren -- 3,500 people suffered serious side effects including damage to
skin, eyes, circulation, liver and kidneys. 70 people died.
Flosint -- Caused 7 deaths.
Osmosin -- 650 people had side-effects. 20 died.
Chloramphenicol -- Caused fatal blood disorders.
Thalidomide -- Caused about 10,000 birth defects worldwide.
Clioquinol -- Caused 30,000 cases of blindness and/or paralysis and
thousands of deaths.
Conversely, many drugs which are beneficial to humans are dangerous or
even fatal to animals:
Penicillin -- Antibiotic in humans but kills guinea pigs.
Digitalis -- A heart drug for humans but causes high blood pressure
Chlorophorm -- Anaesthetic in humans but poisonous to dogs.
Morphine -- Calms humans and rats but causes manic excitement in cats
Aspirin -- Causes birth defects in rats, mice, monkeys, guinea pigs,
cats and dogs, but not in humans.
85 The advancement of knowledge is more important that the welfare
and lives of animals
Knowledge has given us many great things from the wheel to the printing
press but it also gave us the thumbscrew and the nuclear bomb. It is only
a power for good when it is driven by compassion and compassion forbids
that we should cause the suffering and death of others for our own ends.
86 It wouldn't be done if it wasn't necessary
There are about 18,000 licensed medicines in Britain all of which, by law,
have to be tested on animals. And yet according to the World Health
Organization (WHO) only about 200 of these are actually necessary, the
rest are only variations of the same drugs produced entirely for profit by
large pharmaceutical companies.
87 Vivisection benefits animals too
Worldwide, vivisection costs the lives of 100 million animals every year,
many of whom are literally tortured to death. It is difficult to see how
this is of benefit to them.
88 The animals are anaesthetized
In the UK 60-70% of all procedures on laboratory animals are performed
89 The suffering is kept to a minimum
Typical animal experiments include: the Draize Eye Test -- in which
substances are put into the eyes of restrained rabbits (rabbits' eyes do
not produce enough tears to wash the substances away); and the LD (Lethal
Dose) 50 Test -- in which a group of animals is fed a substance until 50%
of them have been poisoned to death. Laboratory animals are given our
most agonizing, crippling, and fatal diseases; they are deliberately
caused psychological stress in behavioural experiments, they are burned,
scalded, electrocuted, injured and mutilated. In the UK, 60-70% of all
procedures on laboratory animals are performed without anaesthetic.
90 Humans are more important than animals
The instinct for self-preservation is one of the strongest; your life is
more important to you than any other because it is all you have but, of
course, the same can equally be said of other animals.
Some people argue that our intelligence makes us more important that
other animals but that would imply that a human's value was also
proportional to his/her intelligence; you would be less important than
someone with a higher IQ and some mentally handicapped people would be
less important than many animals, making them a more appropriate (and less
misleading -- see 82 and 84) choice for vivisection.
If you take an objective view of our place amongst life on earth, it
soon becomes clear that we are the most destructive and damaging of all
creatures and in that respect certainly less valuable.
Our intellectual capacity gives us the ability to always win when our
interests and those of another species clash, but that does not give us a
moral victory. The only quality we have that sets us 'above' other
animals is compassion, and compassion forbids that we cause suffering and
death of others for our own ends.
91 What if a choice must be made between a human and an animal?
Research is always going on into the possibilities of successful organ
transplants from animals to humans. Pigs are being bred specifically for
that purpose but the tragedy of people in need of such treatment is not
the fault of the animals. The animals have their own lives to lead and
cling to their lives as dearly as humans cling to theirs.
One individual may give their life to save another but the choice must
always be theirs and not ours (see also 90 and 173).
92 A human life has more potential that an animal's life
The potential of an individual is an enormous subject; it refers to any
aspect of their existence that is possible! The human mind undoubtedly
gives us potential far in excess of any other species but this is not a
measure of our value because potential is always dualistic in nature.
Positive potential is always balanced by an equal and opposite negative
one; we can be happy, but we can also be sad, we can reproduce but we can
kill, we can create but also destroy. Our true value lies in what we are,
not in what we may come to be.
The tragedy is that our position amongst life on Earth has been largely
defined by our potential to destroy.
93 Most substances have been tested on animals at some time
True, but we cannot change the past, those who have already suffered and
died are lost. The important thing is that we change the future by
choosing only the products of companies that have renounced vivisection
and thereby force others to follow.
94 Animal rights are anti-science
Animal rights are pro good science. We must abandon the cruel (see 89)
and misleading (see 82 and 84) practice of vivisection and pour our
ingenuity and resources into the many alternative systems. These include
high technology analytical techniques that allow scientists to study the
effects of minute quantities of a substance in humans, tests on human
tissues maintained in test tubes, complex computer programmes that can
predict the effects of new drugs and epidemiological studies of the causes
and spread of disease.
95 Animal rights are anti-human
Humans are animals, therefore animal rights are human rights.
ANIMALS AS AMUSEMENTS
96 Humans have a hunting instinct
Possibly, but as human beings we are able to recognize and inhibit our
instinctive desires. That is why most men are not rapists.
Feeling an urge to do something does not necessarily justify your doing
it. Whatever hunting instincts we have are better satisfied in the
pursuit of sports and games than in causing the unnecessary suffering and
death of other animals.
97 Hunting is traditional
98 Rural communities support hunting
Actually many rural communities do not support hunting but it wouldn't
make any difference if they did, if it's wrong it's wrong no matter who
supports it. It is worth remembering that rural communities also
99 Urban people do not understand country life
It is true that many urban people have a fairly naive view of country life
and it is frustrating for country people to be told by them how to live.
But, conversely, for many country people, the killing of animals is such
an ingrained part of their lives it is hard for them to understand that
they could or should be living their lives without it.
100 Hunters are conservationists
It is, of course, in the interest of hunters (including anglers) to
protect the environment that provides their 'sport' but wild animals
should not have to pay for conservation with their lives. Conservation is
a responsibility shared by all people and not a job for a minority to be
paid for in animal lives.
101 Many people's whole way of life depends on hunting
102 Most hunted animals are pests and vermin
103 How else would you control their numbers?
104 Animals suffer in the wild anyway
105 Foxes enjoy the hunt
It seems unlikely that foxes "enjoy" being hunted but it is possible
that they do not experience any great fear until the closing stages of a
'successful' hunt. The fox can become exhausted but the length of the run
is more usually limited by the inclination of the hunters. The point is
that we have no right to be hunting foxes at all (see also 49, 106, 107,
108, and 109).
106 Foxes kill beyond necessity
Foxes have been known to get into chicken coops and kill far more that
they could possibly eat but this is our fault not theirs.
The fox is largely a predator, if it gets within grabbing distance of a
bird it's going to try to kill it. That is how it survives. In the wild
all but one and usually all of the chickens would have escaped but because
we have chosen to hold them captive they are all at the mercy of the fox
who behaves, in this unnatural situation, only according to his instincts
-- like a child given free rein in a sweet shop (see also 49).
107 The foxes have a chance to escape
It is, I hope, fairly obvious that you cannot justify cruel and
unnecessary killing by giving your victim "a chance to escape".
108 Foxes hunt, why shouldn't they be hunted?
Foxes are predators, they have to kill other animals in order to survive.
Human beings choose to kill foxes for "sport". It is not the same thing
at all; foxes have no choice, we do.
109 People only do it for the thrill of the chase
But you don't have to kill to enjoy the thrill of the chase. Fox hunters
can (and many do) have just as much fun chasing a trail of artificially
laid scent (drag hunting) or point-to- pointing.
110 Zoos propagate endangered species
There are nearly 6,000 species of mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, fish
and invertebrate in danger of extinction. Another 578 are listed as
vulnerable. It has been estimated that, every day, between 50 and 100
species of plant or animal become extinct through loss of habitat,
poaching or pollution.
A tiny handful of species has been saved by captive breeding
programmes in a few of the 'better' zoos but in view of the enormity
of the problem this can only be a token gesture. The only real solution
is the complete protection of wild habitats and a massive international
effort to stem pollution and end the poaching of endangered species.
111 Zoo animals are well cared for
Wild animals are designed specifically to look after themselves, their
whole life and entire evolution has adapted them perfectly for this
purpose and they are remarkably good at it. Any care given to imprisoned
animals by humans can only be inferior to this.
The best way to care for a wild animal is to set it free it its native
environment (see also 112).
112 Zoo life is easier than life in the wild
In the wild an animal endures a great deal of stress, from the threat of
predation, the constant search for food and often a hostile environment,
but millions of years of evolution have so entirely adapted them to cope
with that stress that they cannot function properly without it.
A wild animal in captivity, like a human being in prison, is presented
with an entirely different kind of stress (boredom mostly), with which it
is simply not designed to cope. That is why so many zoo animals become
mentally ill, displaying stereotypical behaviour like rocking and swaying,
compulsive grooming, pacing up and down, head twisting and banging,
vomiting, self-mutilation, infanticide, aggression and apathy. An
animal's place, easy or not, is in the wild.
113 The animals don't know any better
Those that were born in the wild obviously do know something better but
even if they did not it would not alter the fact that they are caused
suffering in captivity (see 112) and deserve better.
114 Most people would never see wild animals if it wasn't for zoos
Most people will never see Australian aborigines or Mongolian nomads but
that is not a good reason to put them is zoos. To imprison individuals
just so that you can look at them is obviously wrong.
115 Zoos encourage interest in, and sympathy for, animals
To encourage a good attitude towards animals by imprisoning them is a
ridiculous contradiction. It would be fairer to lock up people who have a
bad attitude towards animals.
116 Zoos give pleasure to many people
To imprison animals for pleasure is wrong. Animals have a right to their
freedom just as we do. Surely we can find ways to enjoy ourselves without
abusing the rights of others?
117 Much has been learned about wild animals by studying them in captivity
We don't need knowledge of wild animals and the only time they need our
knowledge of them is when they are in some way threatened by our actions.
A more logical approach would be to study them in their natural
environment whilst ensuring that they and their environment are completely
118 Zoos are educational
119 Circuses are traditional
120 Circuses give pleasure to many people
We have no right to use animals for our entertainment, they have their own
lives to lead irrespective of any use we may have for them. Surely we can
find ways to enjoy ourselves without abusing the rights of others? (See
121 Circuses are a way of life
Animal acts form only one part of a circus. Many circuses now do not use
them at all. Abandoning animal exploitation does not mean that we cannot
continue to have and enjoy circuses.
122 The animals wouldn't perform if they didn't want to
Circus animals, usually wild species, often perform very unnatural acts:
elephants balance on tubs, bears ice-skate and dance, lions jump through
And they do so in a totally alien environment of noise and bright
Not surprisingly, a considerable amount of "persuasion" is required to
achieve these performances and to this end circuses employ various
techniques. These include deprivation of food, deprivation of company,
intimidation, muzzling, drugs, punishment and reward systems, shackling,
whips, electronic goads, sticks and the noise of guns.
123 The animals are trained by kindness
124 The animals are healthy
Circus animals suffer similar mental and physical problems to zoo animals
(see 112) displaying stereotypical behaviour like pacing up and down,
swaying from side to side, infant neglect, apathy and boredom. Physical
symptoms include shackle sores, herpes, liver failure, kidney disease and
125 The animals are well cared for
An animal cannot be well cared for in a circus, apart from the cruelty of
training and performance (see 122) no attempt is, or even can be made to
simulate the animal's natural environment. Much of its time is spent
traveling, usually in a 'beast wagon'. These are lorry trailers with bars
on one side and blank wooden or metal walls on the other three. The
animal's social life is completely destroyed, often solitary predators
like tigers are forced to live in large groups. Many of the animals
become both physically and mentally ill (see 124).
126 The animals don't know any better
Those that were born in the wild obviously do know something better but
even if they did not it would not alter the fact that they suffer in
circuses (see 122 and 125) and deserve better.
127 The animals wouldn't survive in the wild
Most circus animals, having spent their lives in such an alien
environment, would have little chance of survival in the wild. They would
probably need human care for the rest of their lives.